How to Save Money With the National Park Annual Pass

When we began planning our cross country road trip we were electrified by the idea of visiting multiple US National Parks along the way. With 2016 being the National Park Service Centennial and over 2000 federal sites to choose from, we had extra incentive to get outside and explore. Thanks to a good tip from a friend we purchased the National Park Annual Pass and took full advantage of it! Here’s the lowdown on the pass, how we saved money this summer and how you could do the same.

Bass Harbor LH in Acadia National Park

What You Get

America the Beautiful passes cover the entrance and standard amenity fees at all Federal Recreation sites and is valid for a full year from the date of purchase. They can be purchased online or in person at most federal recreation site. Items that are not covered include camping fees, tours, concessions or special recreation permits.

In addition to the 59 existing National Parks you’ll enjoy access to sites managed by:

  • Fish and Wildlife Service
  • The Forest Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
NPS Annual Pass
NPS Annual Pass

The Cost

The pass will set you back $80.00 but can be used for up to 4 adults (16 and over) riding in a personal vehicle or the pass owner and 3 others when the site charges per head. The pass can be shared by two people who must sign the back of the card and either must present a valid ID when entering the sites. If you’re planning a trip to multiple sites/parks the pass is well worth the cost! Check out how much we saved.

The Savings

Here are some of the sites we visited:

  • Maine: Acadia National Park
  • Colorado: Maroon Bells
  • Utah: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Lake Powell/Lone Rock Beach
  • Arizona: Grand Canyon
  • California: Joshua Tree National Park, Muir Woods National Monument


Asset 2

Maroon Bells
Maroon Bells


Other Ways to Save

Military Annual Pass
  • Free for current U.S. military members and their dependents
Senior Lifetime Pass
  • $10 Available to US Citizens and permanent residents age 62 or over
4th Grade Annual Pass
  • Free Available to US 4th Graders
Volunteer Pass
  • Free Available to volunteers with 250 hours with federal agencies participating in the Interagency Pass Program
Centennial Celebration

There are still a few dates left in 2016 to enjoy entrance free days

  • January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16 – 24: National Park Week
  • August 25 – 28: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

With many more gorgeous summer days left left now is the perfect time to get outside and explore America the Beautiful for yourself! Find a park near you now.